Bay Area couple first to plead guilty in college admissions scandal, could trigger more indictments

Hillsborough couple Bruce and Davina Isackson are the first parents to plead guilty in taking part in a college admissions bribery scheme — and their plea could signal more indictments are on the way.

The Isacksons pleaded guilty Wednesday in Boston federal court to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Bruce Isackson also pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States for deducting those bribes from their taxes as charitable donations.

The couple left the courthouse without commenting. They are the only parents who have agreed to cooperate with investigators, and it was recently revealed they will testify against others if asked.

Former federal prosecutor Bradley Simon says their cooperation also likely means there will be a new wave of indictments, as the pair may name other people who participated in the scheme.

12 other parents have made agreements with prosecutors to plead guilty, including Felicity Huffman, however, they are awaiting court dates.

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The Isacksons are accused of paying $600,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles.  Authorities say the Isacksons paid to rig the entrance exam score for one of their daughters and get both girls admitted to school as fake athletic recruits.

Among their falsified accolades, one daughter’s athletic profile touted her as a “Varsity 8 stroke” for the Redwood Scullers. Another daughter, Lauren, was identified by the Los Angeles Times as a former UCLA women’s soccer player, despite never playing competitive soccer before. The Times reported she did play on the practice squad in 2016, but a school spokesperson said she was no longer on the team.

Bruce Isackson, who works as a real estate developer, transferred over 2,100 Facebook shares to pay for his daughters’ guaranteed college admission, according to the Department of Justice. In a conversation with scam coordinator Rick Singer transcribed in the affidavit, Isackson allegedly said, “I think we’ll definitely pay cash this time, and not, not — not run it through the other way.”

“No words can express how profoundly sorry we are for what we have done,” the Isacksons wrote in a statement earlier in the month. “Our duty as parents was to set a good example for our children and instead we have harmed and embarrassed them by our misguided decisions. We have also let down our family, friends, colleagues and our entire community. We have worked cooperatively with the prosecutors and will continue to do so as we take full responsibility for our bad judgment.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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